Silence is not golden, according to Alan Akina.
The Kahuku boys basketball coach was forced to step down over the weekend, and he does not plan on going away quietly.
“We’ve been trying to reach them, the school administration, but they won’t return my calls,” said Akina’s attorney, Eric Seitz. “I’m in a position to help them resolve this. Without any contact, we’re going to end up suing them.”
Akina declined to comment, but sources indicate that a parents meeting with Kahuku administrators before the ongoing Punahou Invitational tournament led the administrators to call the tourney and pull out. Punahou coach Darren Matsuda pleaded with the administrators to stay in the tourney — the team was contractually obliged anyway — but Akina was told not to take the team.
With one of his guards out with an injury, he called up one of his sons, Kawika, from the JV team, and another JV player. That may have violated one of the stipulations set by administration when tensions flared last season.
The Red Raiders went to the tourney anyway, and as many as 10 seniors responded by sitting out and watching the game in street clothes from the bleachers at Punahou’s Hemmeter Fieldhouse.
That was on Saturday. By Monday, Akina was the one watching from the bleachers, having been removed. An interim coach was put in his place, and the full roster was on the bench.
On Monday, after the team returned from the tournament, a players meeting with administration was interrupted by parents, according to one source.
By today, Akina had secured Seitz for representation. The question of whether Akina was stipulated to leave Kawika Akina on the JV is a question only the coach and his players can answer, as well as the parents who have led the battle against their coach.
The basic gripe is that the coach calls too many plays for his older son, Keanu, to shoot the basketball. Even if there are other options.
“We think he’s a good guy. He’s like a mentor to us,” said senior guard Kenny Spencer, who scored five points in the second overtime to lead Kahuku over No. 7 Kalaheo 53-49 on Tuesday.
“We just want to move ahead and focus on basketball,” Spencer said.
Seitz says that will not be possible as long as his client gets the proverbial stiff-arm from administrators. A potential lawsuit could be brought to court by Monday morning, he said.
“What we’re going to try and do is get Alan restored as head coach. This is a situation in which there are some very spoiled parents who are trying to dictate to the school and in turn to the coach how he runs his team,” said Seitz, who attended today’s game and sat next to Akina. “Regrettably, the athletic director (Gillian Yamagata) and principal (Pauline Masaniai) don’t know how to handle the situation. The coach has been removed on an interim basis without any explanation. The kids are caught in the middle of this. It’s an atrocious situation of adults acting badly and hurting kids.”
In recent years, the new administration, led by Masaniai, incurred the wrath of then-coaches by requiring them to re-apply for positions despite years of success on and off the fields and courts. Most of them refused to re-apply and walked away, including boys basketball coach Darren Johnson. Johnson was suspended during his last season there after being assaulted on the court by a parent.